Afghan war

Afghanistan, how to get it wrong

The big risk but no return campaign

Afghan war Afghan war
The 'man in the pub', that universal source of wisdom, had doubts from the start about the UK's participation in the war in Afghanistan, feeling it was a huge risk and of doubtful value. The war in Iraq also jarred the nerves of not just pub man but the entire nation. Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was, so we were told, the only way to deal with the Weapons of Mass Destruction; so WMDs and Hussein, two easy to discern and define targets. It was only later did we find that in reality it was not like that. The fighting in Afghanistan was different, the Taliban were hard for the troops on the ground to define, pub man stood no chance.

However, pub man is patient and as the typical Taliban looked just like a nutty Muslim Cleric, gave the fighting a fighting chance. But for the UK troops the risk to benefit ratio soon became clear and the nation, in response to the rising death toll, withdrew its support for the concept whilst maintaining respect for the troops on the ground. Hence today pub man is not the least bit surprised by the articles in the Times laying out the awful truth, and blame, behind the Afghan Campaign.

But enough of pub man we need an expert here.

The battle of Wootton Bassett

It was obvious it would come to this.

Anjem ChoudaryAnjem Choudary

Anjem Choudary, the self proclaimed leader of al-Muhajiroun in the UK, wants to march down the High Street of the Wiltshire town to protest about the UK's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, see HERE.

The UK's part of the wars in both go back to the days of Tony Blair, not an auspicious start. For in his own way Blair was as much a villain then as Choudray is seen today. The reasons for the invasion of Iraq, the 'dodgy dossier' can be seen for what they are, lies. In his analysis of the war in Iraq, Ministry of Defeat (see below right), Richard North shows how chaotic the British Army's performance in Iraq was. It is also clear that the practical lessons from Iraq have not been learnt, Afghanistan looks to be heading the same way.

How to 'help' the Afghan Addicts

Stupid people and poor countries come together

Magic bus, early 1970s Magic bus, early 1970s
There should be an organisation called Afghan Addicts Anonymous. On the other hand perhaps the anonymous is not required. Far too many people are happy to put their name to yet another article on the subject of 'What to do about Afghanistan'. They seem to do so with the sole purpose of convincing others to meddle, as they do, in this sad country as long as possible. Rather like smokers would claim they have 'rights' the Afghanistas reckon that they do too with this 'work'. They think it's a right to 'sort out' this country, much as Tony Blair wanted to 'fix' Africa. On the evidence of progress so far, it's a form of arrogance, a sickness even.

These people are a motley bunch, politicos, think tankers and retired military types abound. But they share a weird desire to mess Afghanistan up.

Twitter arithmetic

The significance of numbers

Frankie Howerd Frankie Howerd

As predicted the death toll of UK soldiers in Afghanistan has exceeded 200 in 8 years. This totemic figure will ensure that the media spotlight will shine brightly, for a while, on a number of issues given a trial run recently - equipment shortages is an obvious one. But let's wait and see for it's unlikely that anything related to strategy will be part of a wider public debate.

Tragic as the 200 deaths are they have to be seen alongside the 30,000 over 5 years in NHS hospitals from superbugs, reported in the Telegraph. Over the same period as the war in Afghanistan this would be 48,000 deaths. What a strange world it is, the deaths of soldiers only jars the national conscience when the figure has a certain resonance, yet deaths from superbugs appear to be running at over 100 per week. But the only hint of a debate, which soon turns into a bipolar rant, is when MEP Daniel Hannan makes his opinions of the concept of 'Big State' as related to health provision known on a US TV news programme.

The reasons for the fourth Anglo-Afghan war - discuss

A level - general studies

Remnants of an armyRemnants of an army

The image shows the painting - Remnants of an Army' by Elizabeth Butler portraying William Brydon arriving at the gates of Jalalabad as the only survivor of a 16,500 strong evacuation from Kabul in January 1842.

Afghanistan now provides the 90% of the world's opium and 80% of the world's heroin. In the 10 years since 1996 the output has trebled. The farmers receive a tiny percentage of what the traffickers get so even when growing poppy they are not growing rich. Without this crop they can survive only with difficulty. The Independent tells us here
that - The governor of Helmand, Engineer Mohammed Daoud, claims to have eradicated 7,000 hectares of poppy this year. But even that modest claim is disputed."The real figure is about 1,000 hectares," one Western source said. "The district elders just followed the eradication teams around handing out wads of money. Sometimes the teams just drove a single tractor through the field and announced that they had eradicated it."

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